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Alfa Romeo Junior EV is a family crossover with a hot hatch’s character

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WHEN it was first unveiled, this car was called Milano.

That’s Italian for Milan, Alfa Romeo’s original home.

This top Veloce model has a perky 280hp to play with

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This top Veloce model has a perky 280hp to play withCredit: Supplied
It’s small and light for an EV, so acceleration is vivid

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It’s small and light for an EV, so acceleration is vividCredit: Supplied
The brilliant race-style seats keep you clamped in position

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The brilliant race-style seats keep you clamped in positionCredit: Supplied

Thing is, it’s actually built in Poland.

The Italian authorities threw a strop,  calling it misleading. So Alfa had to change the name to Junior, after Alfa’s small- engined coupes in the Sixties.

Will Ford will get the same grief with its new Capri? Named after an Italian island, it’s built in Germany.

Moving on . . .  Alfa Romeo is famous for its great engines. But this one is available, at least at first, only as electric. Oh. But Alfa is also known for performance and here the Junior steps up.

Ignore for a moment the meek 156hp basic version. This top Veloce model has a perky 280hp to play with. It’s small and light for an EV, so acceleration is vivid.

That speed needs good handling. So they dug deep. Compared with the base-motor version, it has a thorough re-jig of suspension and steering, and bigger wheels and tyres.

Even a true mechanical limited-slip differential (LSD), like rally cars use.

It works. This might look like a little crossover, but it’s got the terrier-like character of a front-drive hot hatch. The steering is direct and accurate.

Pile it into a corner and you can feel the back tyres edge gently outward, tucking the nose inward. It sets you up perfectly for the exit from the bend.

Floor the accelerator and that LSD means the traction is terrific, so you’re shot forward at a keen pace.

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While the car snakes around, the brilliant race-style seats keep you clamped in  position.

EVs mostly use the motor to slow you down, recovering energy to the battery. It improves range but makes the pedal feel artificially soggy.

So in its dynamic mode the Junior Veloce emphasises true disc braking. It feels more natural and reassuring. Er, calm down. This is a small family crossover.

Key facts

ALFA ROMEO JUNIOR ELETTRICA VELOCE

Price: £42,295

Battery: 51kWh

Power: 280hp

0-62mph: 5.9 secs

Top speed: 125mph

Range: 205 miles

CO2: 0g/km

Aren’t the passengers going to get  properly sick if the driver’s going like that? So just wait until you’ve dropped the kids at school.

Still, while you are on gentler family duties, it’s OK. For a small car the rear space is at least average, and the boot is decent too. The suspension isn’t too aggravating.

It’s handy for tight city streets and parking spaces. And smooth at town speeds.

It’s also fine on the motorway. At least, provided you don’t mind frequent charging stops. The battery range is pretty poor for a £42k car. But if you have fun roads nearby, this is a fun car to drive on them.

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